There is no longer a need for a mask mandate. This is without question if you look at the data, the science and the anecdotal evidence. The COVID-19 policies of the City of Dubuque and Dubuque County should do two things: protect the most vulnerable and keep hospitals from being overrun.
Statewide, the hardest hit population in terms of death from COVID is the 65+ age group. This group has experienced approximately 1,030 deaths per 100,000 people over the last year, on par with heart disease and cancer. The good news is that nearly 90% of those over 65 have already received at least one dose of the vaccine in Dubuque County. Vaccination appointments are plentiful in Dubuque County. The fact is that virtually everybody over 65 who wants to get vaccinated has had an opportunity. We have protected our most vulnerable.
Except for the pre-vaccine surge in the fourth quarter 2020, the rolling seven-day average of hospital bed usage has remained around 2% or less of total beds in Dubuque County. The 14-day positive test rate is at 2%, extremely low. The fact that the City of Dubuque now only updates the COVID stats for the county three times per week indicates that the crisis has significantly diminished. Hospitals are not being overrun.
The crisis has passed; the most vulnerable have been protected and the hospitals have been spared. The decision to mask, or not, should now be left up to the individual and the individual businesses.